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Central California spring garden wedding with a surprise gospel choir

August 23, 2023

Josh and Mollie’s romantic, rustic garden wedding in Central California is so full of intention, inspiration is bursting forth from every image Ellie Koleen Photography shared with us. As Kelly Moore, their wedding designer and MOH puts it, This was not just a wedding but an intimate portrait of a combined journey of two people showcased in the form of physical details and nods to their story. They managed to take pieces from each of their stories—like the bride’s favorite animal, the horse, and the groom’s favorite animal, the snake—and blend them in a way that not only looked beautiful but felt meant to be. To top it all off, Kelly and her team surprised Josh and Mollie during their ceremony with a gospel choir singing a favorite song. So special!

Keep scrolling for their story, and even more magical moments, below!

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Mollie’s Maid of Honor and wedding designer Kelly was also behind the gorgeous custom calligraphy, invites, and paper goods that set the tone for the day.

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Love these subtle blue floral details for our groom.

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Their spring wedding flowers by Emerald Grace Floral Design resembled fresh-picked bouquets that contained specific flowers as a tribute to the bride’s mom and grandmother. Love the romantic blue velvet ribbon!

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Blue bridesmaid dresses in different tones brought the rustic garden theme together while repping their love of the ocean.

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Personalized Details

Every detail of Josh and Mollie’s rustic garden wedding had a special meaning for themselves and their love story, including nods to their love of the outdoors. Mollie spent years as a volunteer for an equine horse therapy program in the Central Valley and the groom is an avid reptile enthusiast, so they went with horse and snake motifs throughout. A custom crest (also by Kelly) featured these elements along with messages highlighting the symbolism of each motif. Lastly, their blue color palette and custom details (like a canoe bar, seating chart with spring drinks, and a wishing wall) brought everything together.

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A Surprise Choir

Kelly says, This couple comes from different cultural backgrounds and a wedding blends those two. We achieved that blend with so many fun details such as a surprise gospel choir whom I secretly met with for a few months prior to rehearse doing a flash-mob-style surprise at the ceremony. No one knew about the surprise except the vendors and pastors. One of the bride’s favorite songs is Stand By Me and the choir sat mixed amongst the guests and during the ceremony each stood up one by one singing a verse of the song until they were all singing in unison. It was one of the most magical things I have ever experienced. Mixed styles of music were a big part of the wedding as we featured the gospel choir, jazz for the cocktail hour and had an incredible live musician for dinner. 

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Creative Escort Cards

To continue the outdoor adventure theme, the couple offered each guest a paleta-infused agua fresca to sip and wooden placard ornament favors to keep as they found their way to their seats. Guests were greeted with custom appetizers featuring the bride and groom’s favorites—mac and cheese and chicken + waffles—and sipped on a his and hers cocktail aptly named, “Spicy Peach Palomino” after a horse and, “The Blackberry Mamba” after a snake… All served on a custom made canoe bar to represent a favorite activity of the bride and groom!

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Guests left well wishes on a canoe paddle at the bar in lieu of a guest book. Find more creative guest book ideas here!

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You’d never think a horse, snake, and adventure theme could blend together so romantically! Kudos to Kelly Moore for pulling off such an impeccably styled wedding without compromising the couple’s story and interests.

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Lanterns above the reception are such a good way to make an open space more intimate, and a beautiful detail as the sun goes down.

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The couple also crafted a wishing wall showcasing photos of their love story as well as honored family members who had passed. Guests could record well wishes for the couple on cards as they lounged among the rustic garden setting. The wall even featured hand-carved horses made by the bride’s grandfather.

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As a final way to tie in the symbolism and family-centric feel of the day, mini wedding cakes featured toppers made from treasured photos of their parents in black and white.

What an absolutely gorgeous wedding day!

For those of you getting married in Central California, be sure to check out the creative team who made this rustic garden wedding happen, and find more 100LC-approved wedding Pros on our site, MatchBook.

Venue: Westwood Barns in Central California | Planning, Design, & Styling: Kelly Moore | Day of Coordination & Styling: Type A Society |  Photography: Ellie Koleen Photography | Catering: Braised Kitchen | Bartending: Corey Gendreau | Floral Design: Emerald Grace Floral Design |  Hair: Jordan Segna  and Ashley Abrahamian |  Makeup: Bare Skin Beauty | Barn Draping: Maty’s Linens and Decor | DJ: Toasts and Bells | Custom Builds: Clovis Custom Woodworking | Canoe Bar & Pergola: Garrett Nicoletto | Wood Laser Lettering:  The Memorial Studio | Rentals: CT Event Rental BBJ La TavolaHostess HavenCatalog Atelier |  Invitation Design, Calligraphy, Custom Crest & Paper Goods: Kelly Moore | Vow Books: Jen Simpson Design | Large Scale Printing : The Merch Pros |  Cocktail Napkins: Zazzle | Gospel Choir:  The Blackout Fellowship | Quartet: Maxton Vieira | Bridal Gown: Madi Lane Bridal from The Ivory Boutique | Bridal Hairpiece:  Belle Michelle | Bridal Shoes: Modcloth | Bridesmaid Dresses : Shop Revelry & Tulle + Chantilly |  Groom’s Suit: Suit Shop | Tie: Dazi | Groomsmen Suits: Stitch & Tie | Groomsmen Ties: H&M |  Ring Bearer Outfits: River IslandH&M | Wood Seating Cards: Lotus Laser WorksBay Berries Studio | Cord of 3 strands Board: The Shed Interiors